Today is in fact National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. And while I’m not generally a fan of humoring the absurdity that is the arbitrary food holiday calendar, ice cream sandwiches are a thing worth celebrating. Today seems as good a day as any, but I’m gonna keep celebrating tomorrow if I feel like it. And between you and me… I kind of started celebrating yesterday.
Now, I am of the firm belief that you cannot beat a classic, store-bought ice cream sandwich. Those soft rectangular delights composed of plain, low-grade vanilla ice cream sandwiched between 2 pieces of soft fudgey “bread.” I’m partial to Mayfield’s rendition of this crave-worthy classic, and I’m pretty sure it’s been scientifically proven that they taste significantly better when purchased from a gas station and consumed before leaving the fume-filled parking lot (I can’t find the study I’m thinking of right now, but I assure you it exists). All that said, sometimes, you wanna go DIY with your ice cream sandwiches. Because it’s fun and allows for complete customization.
I support this. And I show my support with 6 suggestions for taking those DIY frozen dairy sammies next-level:
1. Go beyond the cookie.
There is a wide world of options to explore when it comes to objects you can sandwich ice cream between. I invite you to do so. Cookies are great, but things like pound cake slices, crispy rice treats, macaroons, compressed cookies, graham crackers, funnel cakes, and even waffles make for great ice cream sandwich bread.
2. Don’t freeze what ain’t meant to be frozen.
OK, so since we’re already talking about the “bread” of the matter, here’s the deal–you can’t put certain sandwiching items into the freezer if you expect to have an enjoyable ice cream sandwich-eating experience. Sorry.
But most cookies that are not intentionally designed as an ice cream sandwich cookie (an yes, that is a thing people do) will freeze impenetrably solid. I can get down with a frozen chocolate chip cookie by itself, but 2 sweet rock slabs are not exactly pleasurable to try to bite through as softening ice cream oozes out the sides. Other items, like funnel cakes for example, can be frozen… but are bound to lose quality during the freeze. Basically what I’m telling you is that the majority of ice cream sandwiches are best assembled right before eating. There is a way to plan ahead, though: Simply spread your (softened) chosen ice cream into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze it. Then when it’s time to assemble sandwiches, cut the firm ice cream slab–using a round cookie cutter or knife for other shapes–into ice cream “patties” to slap on your sandwiches. And for something that’s foolproof make-ahead I’d recommend these Oreo-Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches.
3. Customize your cream.
An easy way to spruce up store-bought ice cream is to soften it up, then stir in your own custom mix-ins–like stirring mini M&Ms into vanilla ice cream, chopped peanut butter cups into chocolate ice cream, crushed cookies into caramel ice cream, etc.
4. Or hey, make your own ice cream.
Alright you domestic goddess, make these sweet sammich treats extra-homemade by preparing your own ice cream first. It’s a fun summer activity to do with kiddos and it’s always nice to know exactly what’s going into your dessert. We’ve got plenty of recipes to choose from–no-cook to traditional custards. Personally, I’m really into this Peach Cobbler Ice Cream with Bourbon Caramel. I would probably sandwich this ice cream in between some cornmeal cookies, dip them in the sauce, and go to town.
5. Condiments, people.
When you’re assembling, layer on some other goodies to give your sandwich added personality. Go with something fresh like sliced strawberries or bananas, or something less fresh like shredded coconut or a healthy smear of caramel sauce. Also, rolling the your edges in sprinkles is also a nice added touch–this sets you up for a great Instagram shot. Just saying.
6. Try it open-faced.
If all of this sounds like a sticky catastrophe waiting to happen all over your kid’s face. Go for a knife-and-fork(more like a spoon in this case) sandwich, that keeps the melty mess contained to the plate (mostly). To make an open-faced sandwich, just layer ice cream and condiments over your bread of choice–waffles, brownie slabs, pound cake slices, and biscuits are all excellent options here.